Separating the art from the artist has long been a debate in the world of literature.
And with the advent of the Internet and social media, this issue is becoming more and more pronounced in the book community.
It’s easier than ever for the authors of the books we read to become much more than just names to us– they’re real people who say (or… tweet) real things, often having to do with social issues and politics. Not always the most uniting forces.
Naturally, if you pay attention to an author’s personal life (or their vocal Twitter feed) it’s going to become impossible to remain thinking about them as simply the name on the cover of your favorite book. Suddenly, they’re a real person with flaws, mistakes and all sorts of controversial takes. This can be jarring, especially if you don’t like what that author has said or done.
This unsettling realization has sparked debate amongst bookworms: should we separate the art from the artist? Is it even possible?
Though it’s true that books don’t exist in a vacuum, I believe that, most of the time, we can and should separate the art from the artist.
Let’s talk about the idea of separating the art from the artist when it comes to books and literature.
The inability to separate the art from the artist is a very slippery slope
The main reason why separating the art from the artist is so important is because the inability to do so opens the door to a slippery slope of epic proportions.
If you’re unable to read a book by any author who’s said or done something wrong, you’re throwing out so much of literature. How many of those “classic” authors were racist? Well?
If you can’t read Harry Potter you’d better be staying away from Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. And Shakespeare, and Hemingway, and Dr. Seuss, and… I could go on for a long time. Unless you want to scrub history of any wrongdoing, to refuse to separate great works of literature from the historical lack of progressiveness of their authors, you’re making a huge mistake.
It has become relatively common to come across lists people have curated of problematic authors that they won’t read or that they encourage others not to read/support– and I can’t help but feel sorry for someone so willing to deprive themselves of quality literature because they are unable to accept that endorsement of a book is not endorsement of every action of its author.
If you take a puritan approach to never separating the art from the artist, it can get out of control very quickly.
What counts as problematic? If the author has done something illegal, or violent? If they’ve said something you believe to be offensive, or politically contentious? Will all other readers agree with you on whether any given statement is problematic? How many books will you have to scrub from your life? Is it worth it to scrap most of the classics? Is it better to avoid older books that contain offensive content instead of reading them with a critical eye? Will you consider historical context to explain the behavior of certain authors, or just remove them from your reading entirely? Will you background-check the author of every book you borrow from the library to make sure they pass the test? Will your standards change as society’s opinion of what is problematic changes? How often will you update the list? Should other people read these books? Should these books be taught in school? Is it okay to read these books and not post about them, or to read them but not buy them, or to post them but emphasize how problematic they are in your post? Should you preface all mentions of these books with trigger warnings?
The fact is that there are so many brilliant authors who, in their personal lives, were, to put it bluntly, terrible people. However, to cut out their contributions to literature would be a grave mistake, and in many cases, the sheer length of, criteria for, and implications of these lists demonstrates the ridiculousness of attempting to purify literature in this way.
How can I separate the art from the artist if the views of an author are always inherently entrenched in their work?
I’ve seen the argument quite often that it’s impossible to separate art from its artist because an artist’s views will always be present in their work. After all, any artist is going to spend years working on a piece of art, pouring their heart and soul into the work. So how wouldn’t said work contain their personal views? Wouldn’t an author’s views always be present in their book? Inherently?
Well, not all of the time, and even when they are, I think it still remains possible to separate the art from the artist.
1) A book or piece of artwork does not always relate to the politics or social issues on which an author holds strong views.
To use an extreme example: before his disastrous foray into politics, Hitler wanted to become an artist. You can find images of his art online, and pieces are sometimes still sold. (It’s legal to sell Hitler’s art, as long as it does not contain Nazi symbolism.) It would be difficult to claim Hitler’s views are present in all of his art. If you had no idea who painted them, you would probably not notice anything.
I am borrowing this argument from a booktuber I saw use it to discuss separation of the art from the artist, because it is a perfect example of how art painted by a terrible person can sometimes remain totally innocuous and unrelated to its creator, when viewed by an outside observer.
Might you feel icky to own a painting created by Hitler? I would not buy one myself, but that doesn’t mean the paintings themselves cannot be viewed for what they are outside of their creator: just paintings.
Art can be easily be judged separately from its artist when its contents are completely unrelated to the views of its artist. Of course, this isn’t always the case, especially once you are well aware of who the artist is, and the waters become slightly muddier in the world of literature.
However, there are several more reasons why it is possible to separate the art from the artist with regard to books.
2) Even when books have clear ideological messages, they can still be criticized on the basis of their ideas instead of on the basis of their authors.
It would be ridiculous to claim that an artist’s views never enter the realm of their art or are always equivocal.
It is rare that books intended to make a point about societal issues, are devoid of the author’s opinions. Often, the opposite is true.
However, such books with a clear narrative to push can still be judged based on their contents, rather based on than their authors.
If a view you disagree with is presented by a book, it is very possible to criticize the book and the viewpoint without involving the author. There is a difference between giving a book a low rating because you fundamentally disagree with the ideas expressed directly within it and giving a book a low rating because the author has said something online that you hate. The first is valid criticism; the second is an ad hominem fallacy.
Critique a book for its content, sure– but not for its author’s unrelated statements. Criticize the ideas, not the person.
A book with content you find offensive or flawed is still a book with content you find offensive or flawed, whether or not you feel the same way about its author.
This allows you to point out flaws in a worldview you believe is wrong while still maintaining the separation between the art and the artist. When you’re reviewing a book, you’re reviewing the book and what it stands for, not the person who wrote it and what they stand for outside of that particular book.
Also, it is important to be open to reading books that you disagree with in order to avoid putting yourself in an echo chamber.
3) The merit of ideas, and by extension, books, are not contingent upon their author’s moral flawlessness.
J.K. Rowling is often the person around which these “separating the art from the artist” debates revolve, because she has provoked a huge firestorm about her views on transgenderism. This has caused many more people to claim her views completely infiltrate her writing and then cite Harry Potter itself as transphobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, what-have-you, etc. However, I find many of these criticisms of Harry Potter to be… well… a bit of a stretch.
Whether you still like/agree with Rowling or not, Harry Potter itself contains no references to transgender people, and I highly doubt these critics would be pointing out so many “offensive” aspects of the series had Rowling never posted her controversial takes on Twitter. Once she made herself Public Enemy No. 1 of the book community, though, everyone’s eyes were opened to how “problematic” the Harry Potter series was. Interesting, is all I can say.
To be fair, criticisms of Harry Potter‘s progressiveness, or lack thereof, existed before 2020, but I noticed an uptick in them after Rowling was canceled on Twitter.
Anyway, I was a huge Harry Potter fan when I was younger, and I’ve read the series many (many many) times. At its core, the series is about love, acceptance, and standing up to prejudice. The villain, Voldemort, is bent on establishing a new world order where pureblood wizards are in power and so-called less desirable people are oppressed. He’s unable to feel love and wants power for its own sake. His prejudice against non-magical people stems from the circumstances of his birth and his own status of a half-blood wizard. The series is full of messages against hate, and whether or not you like Rowling’s online comments, the messages of her books have not suddenly changed.
To cite another example: when I took a US Government class, we read the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and several of the Federalist Papers. I enjoyed reading all of these documents and agreed with many of the principles espoused by them. However, I was also aware that many of the men who wrote them owned slaves and ostensibly did not truly believe in liberty and justice for ALL.
But does this mean that the tenets put forward in the Constitution are somehow less respectable? Does the validity of a statement depend on the writer’s adherence to said statement? Absolutely not.
The point I’m trying to make is that if someone writes something that is true, or that you believe should be true, it doesn’t matter if they themselves abided by it. It’s still a statement that exists on its own and an idea that should be respected. Ideas, and by extension, books, are separate from the simultaneous beliefs and actions of their creators.
4) Once published, literature and its meaning can sometimes become relatively independent from its author and open to the interpretation of readers.
For example, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, an allegory for the Russian Revolution and Stalin’s rise to power, is often cited as a criticism of all forms of socialism/communism. However, this is not necessarily what Orwell intended with the book.
While he was opposed to Stalin and communism in the Soviet Union, he believed in democratic socialism himself, a system in which the government retains a democratic system but the economy functions under socialism. In his essay, “Why I Write,” Orwell directly states: “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it.” Orwell was not a communist, but he was not opposed to leftist ideas.
I have read that the idea of Animal Farm as totally anti-socialism/communism/leftist economic stuff in general was allegedly used as propaganda in the US during the Cold War. I do think the book can be used as an argument for why attempts at socialism/communism have failed so many times, but the point is, that’s not necessarily the absolutist message Orwell was going for when he wrote it. The book has been interpreted in different ways by different people. It just goes to show that an author’s work can be open to interpretation and to try to treat every single novel as some sort of completely unambiguous authorial manifesto can be misguided.
To continue on this Orwell tangent, 1984 is another example of this. The book has been banned in the US for being pro-communist, but banned in the USSR for being anti-communist.
This isn’t an exact dichotomy: in the US, the book was simply challenged by parents in a Florida school, whereas in the USSR under Stalin it was quite literally banned by the government and burned. However, it remains an example of the possible subjectivity of literature with regard to ideology. This is not always the case, but sometimes things are relatively open to interpretation.
I think it is also worth reiterating that the statements, actions, or beliefs of a character in a book do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of the book’s author.
I sometimes see people labeling authors as problematic because of a problematic statement from a character in a book written by that author. The problem with this is that authors are allowed to write morally gray or morally repugnant characters and often use such characters as representations of something they want to expose. The beliefs of a character in a book do not always coincide with those of the book’s author.
The dilemma of separating the art from the artist: aren’t I tacitly supporting an author’s views if I read or purchase their books?
At first, I was 100% for a complete separation of the art from the artist, no holds barred. But then I began thinking about it more, and I realized that, in fact, it did make me feel a little off to read/purchase books by certain authors whose comments unrelated to their work bothered me, once I knew about said comments.
However, I stand by my conviction that reading a book by an author who’s said something that disgusts you is not the same thing as agreeing or supporting their personal views. You can respect someone for their work while not respecting the views they hold outside of said work.
I also used to be completely against refusing to buy a book because of something an author said. Then I saw the argument that refusing to read/buy a book by a certain author because you object to things they have said or done is simply conducting a boycott, so it’s just how capitalism is supposed to work. I thought about this for a bit and… that’s a good point. There’s also the fact that if the author’s statements or actions are bad enough, it can feel morally wrong to pay for their book.
So I think it’s perfectly fine to make the personal decision not to buy from a certain author, from a certain business, etc. and there should be no double standard about this.
On one hand, I believe that choosing to buy someone’s book can be an endorsement of their literary talent, not their personal unrelated views, but I also understand why someone might not want to give certain people more money by buying their book. I know there are certain people I myself do not want to provide with extra money. And, as a participant in the free market here in the US of A (or wherever you live), it’s your right as a consumer to choose who you monetarily support.
In Conclusion: Separating the Art from the Artist
Overall, though this topic has many gray areas, I believe separating the art from the artist is usually the right way to go, especially if you are not giving money to the author. Ideas exist separately from their creators, and attempting to purge literature of all “problematic” authors is not a path I believe we should attempt to go down.
And while choosing to support or not to support an author monetarily is a decision for you as a consumer, I believe that it is important to remember that endorsement of a book is not endorsement of its author and all of their actions or statements.
Do you believe in separating the art from the artist? Why or why not?
More Discussion Posts:
Why Identity Politics Could Ruin the Book Community If We’re Not Careful
Why I DON’T Use Trigger Warnings in my Book Reviews (Trigger Warning: Trigger Warnings)
“Don’t Read the Reviews”: Social Conformity, Hype Trains, and How Reviews Might Influence Your Bookish Opinions
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30 comments on “Yes, We Should Separate the Art from the Artist”
Amazing post – really insightful and interesting. Thanks for sharing!
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Thank you! I am glad you liked it
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You always have such thoughtful posts. I can agree with most of what you say. I do worry about purchasing a book from an author who uses their fame and money to support causes that I am against. Such as politicians who support fake news, or have participated in discriminatory legislation. Basically, if an author is using their fame and fortune to support discriminatory policies, I won’t support them.
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Yes, once I began thinking about that, I realized that there is a point where I wouldn’t want to support an author like that– so there’s a lot of gray area
I love this post, Emily! This is something that I have had an on-and-off (largely mental) discussion about for quite some time.
I think that I agree on all your major points and I love this statement: “You can respect someone for their work while not respecting the views they hold outside of said work.”
Thank you so much for sharing this!!
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Thank you for reading!! I’m glad that someone else agrees that it is possible to separate the art form the artist
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This is a really well-written and insightful post, and I agree with what you’ve said. The author’s personal views often have nothing to do with what their books, and it’s unlikely that one will find themselves agreeing with every opinion of an author.
What bothers me, personally, is people cancelling a book because of something “problematic” that some character said. This seems to happen a lot, and I don’t understand it. Authors are allowed to write what they want, and that can include morally gray characters without it reflecting their personal views. I see this a lot with Lolita, and the fact that the main character is a pedophile doesn’t mean that Nabokov supports it, and the reader isn’t supposed to like that character.
I’m split on the issue of supporting authors by buying books, I think it depends upon the individual book. I generally don’t know much about the authors of the books I buy, so I can’t say that this is something I have dealt with a lot. However, for me personally, it would have to be something severe because I don’t tend to care about authors’ personal views.
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Yes, the way people cancel books for something a character said/did bothers me a LOT– I’m probably going to write a whole different post on how quick people online are to call books problematic for petty/out of context reasons because it can be quite out of control (especially on bookstagram and twitter)
Also, I’m usually like you and don’t care much about stuff authors have said, especially if it’s just a political thing– everyone’s entitled to their own opinion and I consider free speech one of the most important things in society. However, if I learned that an author actually did or siad something REALLY bad/legitimately violent it might cross a line for me where I would not want to buy their book anymore.
Also, I keep hearing how Lolita is a really good book, but I haven’t read it yet; I’m a bit scared to, not because I think Nabokov is a pedophile but simply because I’m worried it might be toooo disturbing to me. I’ll get to it someday, though
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This is a fantastic post, Emily! Your discussions never cease to get me thinking, and I love that!
I’m definitely very much with you that the whole separating the art from the artist thing is a very slippery slope – and honestly, what makes a huge difference for me personally is whether or not the author in question is still alive 😅 I see absolutely no problem in reading classics written by questionable people and even classics with questionable content – because that can spark discussions, too, and also really help you understand the historical mindset that was prevalent at the time. But when the authors in question are people who still play a very active part in today’s society, it gets iffy. Because if I read an author’s book, I am promoting that author by showing interest in their work and, since my reading as a book blogger is extremely public, by giving the book exposure. Which will give the author a bigger platform that they can then use to voice thoughts that could be harmful. And if I buy their book, I am giving them money that they might channel towards causes I find horrifying…
Although there’s also a gray zone, here. Will I ban Harry Potter from my life? No. I love those books more than anything, and they’ve profoundly shaped who I am! J.K. Rowling is already so famous that I highly doubt me talking about her books is going to make a difference, even if I am horrified by the fact that her statements have been quoted by politicians to justify introducing anti-trans legislation in both the US and UK. And, even if I don’t agree with her stance on certain topics, I don’t think me giving J.K. Rowling more money – for example by watching the next Fantastic Beasts movie, which I fully intend to do 😁 – will mean she will use that money to further a hateful cause. She does put a lot of her earnings towards her charity Lumos, and I wholeheartedly support its cause! So I ultimately don’t think me supporting J.K. Rowling will hurt anyone. Although I’ve still decided to get her new releases from the library rather than buying them, in hopes that her overall sales dropping might cause her to at least enter conversations with the people she has been riling against…
Then there are other authors, though, who funnel their book earnings straight into organizations who promote things I definitely don’t stand for! I don’t ever see myself reading a book by Orscon Scott Card, for example, no matter how interesting his work sounds – because he donates a substantial part of his earnings to charities who oppose gay rights and has been extremely vocal in railing against the LGBTQIA+ community. Which means that if bought his books or promoted them, I would actively be contributing to something that absolutely defies the values I believe in. And I could never read his books without having that at the back of my mind, either.
Still, I think these are the kinds of decisions readers have to make for themselves. And there’s nothing I hate more than readers who shame other readers for reading something written by an author who said something controversial. Loving Harry Potter does not make you a transphobe. Not researching the life history of every person before you pick up a book of theirs does not mean you’re insensitve, it just means you’re prioritizing reading time over insane amounts of extra work. And besides – if you only read stuff written by authors who agreed with your views on every single thing in the universe, you’d have a pretty limited selection of books – namely none 😅 And you would never really evolve as a person either, because why question your own views or become surer of why you have them if you only ever read stuff written by people who agree with you?
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Absolutely! I was going to address the is-the-author-still-alive question but my post was already 3,000 words— I definitely agree with you on the classics thing. For example, a lot of people try to get rid of Little House on the Prairie bc in it the characters say a couple of racist things about indigenous people, but the series is a memoir about growing up during westward expansion, and the fact is, that kind of racism happened then, and understanding why people thought these things is not the same as excusing them— I would say that allowing children to read these books would help teach them about prejudice. You have to teach kids about what was happening during that time, what was going on btwn the US gov and Native Americans, the conflicts btwn the tribes already on the land and the white settlers who were told they had the right to live there, and why someone white who grew up in the 19th century would feel this way out of ignorance/fear, and hiding uncomfortable history from kids isn’t really the best idea, I think. I’d say if you want better rep of indigenous people to counterbalance it, to pair the series with something else to have kids read as well. I’m probably going to write a whole different post about why we should still be reading problematic classics because I have a lot to say on it.
A lot of the “you can’t separate the art from the artist!” stuff has definitely gotten out of control, and you have a good point that Rowling supports more than just one thing. I read her statements and I feel that the hate for her has gotten a little overblown(i saw a Tweet yesterday saying that having a HP tattoo is like having a swastika tattoo… and um…) and also, I agree that reading HP does not indicate anything about whether you agree with Rowling on this specific issue or not. I honestly think that it will be harder now for anyone on the opposing side to change Rowling’s mind after all of the hate people have been sending her for all of this and the way she’s been erased from her own book series; it’s just going to create an even greater us vs them mentality between people who support her and people who don’t and the conversations that would get everyone to consider other perspectives and come closer to the truth will never happen and this is is why I hate cancel culture— but again. Another post.
As for OSC he’s a staple in this debate— I have not looked into what he has said but I heard that he does not support gay rights which I don’t agree with and that he has done/said other things. I still want to read his books though. But you have a point about promoting them.. ah, this issue is so complicated. Theoretically, though, it’s likely that someone would have heard of such a popular book as Ender’s Game before reading your blog. Hm. Makes you wish you never looked up authors!
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Haha, I appreciated every one of those 3,000 words and would glady have read more 🤣 But I very much relate to your dilemma, since my own posts also always end up way too long…
And yes, I completely agree with you about the Little House on the Prairie books! I loved those as a kid, and feel like they taught me so much about American history and westward expansion! And even as an eight-year-old, I was able to pick up on the racism toward the Native Americans that was portrayed in it, and instead of turning me into an intolerant person (at least I hope so 😅), it just made me think about that part of history more deeply! I mean, how will we ever learn to do better if we don’t read things that will help us understand where certain prejudices came from in the first place? Although I fully agree that it’s a good idea to counterbalance books like these with ones that portray the other perspective – I had a massive Native American phase as a kid where I devoured every book I possibly could on them (and cried over the fact that I had blonde hair because I thought that meant no Native American tribe would ever adopt me as one of them; so yeah, I cleary had a lot left to learn 🙈🙈🙈 ), and if I hadn’t had that going into Little House, I might have interpreted things very differently!
And regarding that tweet, I don’t even know what to say 😳🙈😅 I guess at some point, some people become so invested in their hatred of an author’s opinion that they become more fanatic than the author themselves? I fully agree with you, though, that this “us vs. them” way is the wrong way to go! And I also see it as horribly hurtful when people say Harry Potter doesn’t really belong to J.K. Rowling anymore – like it or not, all the wonderful stuff in those books still came from her mind, and having people say a project you poured years of hard work, love, and personal experiences into has got to be beyond horrible! I will always love and admire J.K. Rowling for having written Harry Potter, even if I don’t agree with her stance on trans rights and am disappointed that she is shutting herself off from even talking to the people she hurt most. And even if I have my reasons for not buying her newer books at the moment, I have no qualms about borrowing them from the library and continuing to promote them on my blog. Because I don’t think doing so actively hurts anybody. And I don’t think J.K. Rowling is a monster, either. I just think that due to her own personal experiences and past trauma, she might be a little prejudiced; and that she has never really dealt well with fame or adjusted to being in the public eye so much… (Like, it is a very different thing if you admit to feeling uncomfortable around trans people around friends, but if you present your paranoid opinions as well-researched facts to your millions of followers on the internet, it can have very real and disastrous consequences for people who are already marginalized.)
And if you want to read OSC’s books, I think that’s totally valid! I’d just personally feel super iffy about it and how to review them, which is why I’d rather steer clear altogether 😅 Especially since I also think my feelings on the author might prevent me from enjoying the story – I would not be able to go into the books in an unbiased way, meaning I probably wouldn’t enjoy them as much… But I’ve heard a lot of positive things about his work, so I think it’s completely understandable for people to still want to read it!
Yes, I’m pretty sure I picked up on the racism in Little House even when I read it in 1st-2nd grade but I knew enough history at that point to contextualize it, and it didn’t influence me in any negative way. Also, I believe that at one point in the series Pa befriends some of the Native Americans and the book kind of goes back on the narrative from earlier in the books; it’s relatively nuanced and as Laura is writing about her own life and memories from her childhood, I think it’s very important to not shelter kids from this stuff and be able to learn from our history. Besides, the series as a whole is very good and started my love for historical fiction.
I feel the same way about the way people are trying to erase J.K. Rowling from her own franchise… I think it is horrible and it seems like no one else realizes how messed up it is to pretend like she did not write the Harry Potter books, regardless of what you think about her statements. I really am not educated enough on this specific issue to know a lot about what she is right or wrong about but whether or not her essay/tweets/whatever else were misguided/harmful, I don’t think she ever said that she “doesn’t think trans people deserve to exist” or expressed any kind of hate speech, which is what people are acting like she did. I think Twitter blows things out of proportion pretty quickly. One video I watched of the anti-J.K. Rowling perspective was the one by Contra Points on YouTube and I thought that was a reasonable explanation of why people found her comments offensive. I also don’t know about which organizations she’s been donating to and what impact that’s been having on people but I definitely don’t think the reaction she has gotten is going to make her change her mind on anything, and the situation is just really.. not good
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Yes, exactly! I also think you see Laura’s thoughts evolve throughout the series, and that you can learn so much from it historically 🥰
And I also agree with you that some people are demonizing J.K. Rowling to an exaggerated degree and blowing her comments out of proportion. However, I think she did make some very harmful and overgeneralizing statements – particularly in her essay… I may have gone a bit overboard and actually fact-checked everything in there (**Yes, I might be a tad obsessed when it comes to things relating to Harry Potter** 😅), and some of her “scientific” sources are very questionable to say the least – and the way J.K. Rowling twisted them to fit her narrative was oddly reminiscent of Rita Skeeter, if you ask me 😅 (If you’re interested and this doesn’t happen to be the video you’ve already seen, I highly recommend you watch Jammidodger’s response video to Rowling’s essay on YouTube – it’s one of the best on I’ve seen on the topic, giving you a trans person’s perspective while still remaining respectful and providing actual sources to back up all of the statements made, so that you can read up on everything yourself if you want to!)
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Ah yeah, fact checking is probably a good idea… I should do that 😂 i just mean that I don’t think she is necessarily malevolently hateful towards trans people themselves, or at least it did not seem that way to me, just by reading her exact words. Of course you don’t have to be intentionally malevolent to cause harm, though, so.. yeah I started watching jammidodger’s video actually but I forgot to finish it, I’ll have to go watch the rest.The part I did watch was good though, thanks for the rec
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Additionally I feel like Jk Rowling is a reasonable person who would be open to someone like jammidodger with a point by point rebuttal but the wave of hate will do nothing but convince her that she is right to be concerned about this movement and that’s just not beneficial to anyone
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I think that is a problem in so many areas of society! Instead of talking to one another and trying to understand where the other “side” is coming from, people immediately start hardening frontlines and spewing hate… 😥 And you’re right, it doesn’t help anyone!
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I really agree that it’s so important to separate the artist’s work from the artist! And books/the art often doesn’t represent their views. And if it does represent views that we find abhorrent (eg gone with the wind) then it makes sense to critique those ideas as they stand in said work of art.
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Absolutely! I usually see know reason to involve the author and their personal life when I’m evaluating a book, unless I’m going to buy the book. Books should be judged on their own merit. Thank you for reading!
I think that separating the art from the artist is a bit idealistic. I found that most of the time, when someone tries, they are unable to fully. All works have not appeared in a void as an object, free from any creator or context, so I feel as though books should not be read as such. I disagree with the authorial intent (“what did the author mean when they said this”) because there is no way of knowing for sure, but it is important to consider how works are received and interpreted while taking into account what the author says.
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I wholeheartedly agree with this. If the art is good there is nothing wrong in appreciating it even though the artist has said or done something that is socially unacceptable. It doesn’t mean the same thing reflects in the artist’s work. And tbh we all hold some beliefs in our heart even though we don’t voice it, and just because a popular artist has voiced their beliefs that is viewed wrong by the general public doesn’t make person a villain. It’s just that their view is yet not developed in a particular subject or don’t have enough experience or might have bad experience.
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Very true! Thank you so much for reading! I think it’s important as you said to also have empathy for people and not be so quick to condemn them as being evil or an irredeemable person
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I really love how you said “If you take a puritan approach to never separating the art from the artist, it can get out of control very quickly.” Because it’s so true. Also, I feel authors are held to account more than any other field/industry. If we don’t support businesses/people/products because of an ever changing list of problematic views, we really can’t enjoy anything. Everything and everyone can be traced back to something “problematic” in their lives. I remember when people were boycotting AT&T but AT&T isn’t just a phone company, they own SO MANY companies, or at least have a stake in them. It’s impossible to create that puritan mindset. So why cherry pick?
With that said, I do believe in the power of your dollar and being able to support whoever you please – I’m not okay with the borderline harassment that can come with a public outcry for other people to just follow along with that plan without thinking about it critically for themselves. This was such a wonderful and thoughtful post!
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100%! I’m probably going to be writing another post on cancel culture because I think it is also a big problem in the book community (a BIG problem) and people use it as an excuse to bully others. The vitriol I have seen around a certain specific author is especially concerning. I think it is important that people actually evaluate what they are outraged about before going along with labeling something problematic or inseparable from its author at the very least